Stakes high for Digvijay, Uma Bharti
With the Congress and BJP locked in a "do or die" battle for the crucial December 1 assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, stakes are very high for their respective leaders, Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and Uma Bharti.
The Chief Minister has already announced that he would not seek any post for 10 years if he fails to lead the Congress to victory for the third time in the assembly elections since November 1993.
Singh has also said time and again that after being Chief Minister for two successive terms, if he cannot lead his party to victory then it would mean that he is thoroughly incompetent.
Although Bharti has made no such announcement, there is no doubt that a defeat for the BJP in the assembly elections would be a big blow to her political career.
Bharti maintains that there is no need for her to make any such announcement since she is fully confident that the BJP would win the elections and make sure that Singh does not become the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister for a third consecutive term.
Bharti's main charge against Digvijay Singh is that he has done nothing for the development of the state during the 10 years he has been Chief Minister.
The BJP leader who has been named as her party's chief ministerial candidate also charges Singh with having made false promises which he did nothing to fulfil.
Bharti alleges that Singh is the "most corrupt" Chief Minister in the country although she has not given any proof to substantiate her allegations.
Singh denies all these charges and says that a lot of good work was done in Madhya Pradesh during his chief ministership.
He points out that this was evident from the fact that the Madhya Pradesh government received some awards even at the international level for schemes and initiatives undertaken by it.
Soon after the BJP won last December's assembly elections in Gujarat, Singh claimed that the BJP may foment communal riots in Madhya Pradesh with an eye on the assembly polls.
This was strongly denied by BJP leaders, who claimed that it is Singh who may engineer communal riots to divert the people's attention from the alleged failures of his government.
This war of words between the two parties which have been traditional rivals in Madhya Pradesh has been going on and with the dates for the next assembly elections having been already announced, it is now a testing time for both of them.
For quite long, there has been virtually a two-party system in Madhya Pradesh with the Congress and BJP alone mattering in the poll arena.
But in these elections, a number of other parties including the Nationalist Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are thinking of flexing their muscles.